Habit Updates and November’s Challenge

Want a peak into our home about thirty minutes before we need to get somewhere?

9:30 “Kids, we need to leave soon. Time to clean up the schoolroom,” I say, and then hurry through the house, making sure the floors are tidied and the laundry is put away.

9:40 After stepping on at least twenty crumbs in the kitchen, I decide I simply can’t leave before sweeping.

9:43 As I sweep, I notice a couple icky spots on the floor. Ugh! Those spots really need to be wiped. So, I grab a rag and wipe them up.

9:45 “Oh no! Kids, we’ve got to get there in fifteen minutes,” I realize.  “Run to the bathroom and get your shoes on.”

9:48 “Mama, I can’t find my shoes!” Will says. I find them and put them on. Then take him to the bathroom.

9:50 “Rose, those shoes really don’t match,” I notice. “Run put the brown ones on.”

9:51 While she hurries to change shoes, I buckle the other kids in the van.

9:53 Kids are buckled and I get in the van, but realize my phone isn’t in my purse. Where could it be? I wonder, as I race back inside. I finally find it, in the kids’ room.

9:55 Dashing back to the van, we head off. We need to be there in five minutes, but it’s ten minutes away.

10:05 We pull up to the location. I get the kids unbuckled and out of the van. We walk inside.

10:10 We arrive. Ten minutes late and out of breath.

October Update: “Be on Time!” 

(Is the fact that this habit update is two days late, mean that I utterly failed October’s habit challenge: be on time? Hopefully not!)

How did I do this month? Better. I’ve consciously tried to be on time. I’ve looked up directions to see how long it will take, before leaving. I really focused on pushing our get-out-of-the-house pattern back a few minutes.

And, we have actually started getting places closer and closer to on time this month. We even managed to be early once (and a couple times, we would might have, but circumstances were out of my control.)

But notice how crazy our get-out-of-the-house routine is? It wasn’t until reading this post, Why You Should Get It Done Early, that I realized the problem that was staring me in the face: I was trying to cram in all sorts of other projects before getting ready to walk out the door. 

One Habit a Month: November

So what do I need to work on in November? Yep! Get ready first. And once the children and I are completely ready, if there’s plenty of time to spare, I can sweep the dirty floor.

Children’s Habit Update

I’m simply loving working on one habit at a time with the children. It’s so much easier and more fruitful than trying to instill twenty good habits at the same time!

This past month, we focused on developing a good bathroom routine. They have done so well. At first, Rose would say to herself, “Do the five things. Shut the lid, flush the toilet, wash my hands, turn off the light and shut the door.” Now, she generally just does it. Will also remembers well.

I’ve had to remind them occasionally, but it’s so nice to have it be something they generally just do. With no nagging from me.

One Children’s Habit a Month: November

Isn’t it so wonderful when a child looks you in the eyes and answers your question audibly and politely?

Rose and Will do a good job at home (for the most part) but when we’re out and about, it gets more difficult.  That’s what we’re going to work on this month!

What about you? Have you been working on a new habit? How is it going? 


One Habit a Month: Posture

(I’m took a break from adding to my herbal collection in June since I’d prefer moving as few little glass bottles as possible! I plan to be back with my monthly herbal additions next month.)

June was busy. July will probably be even busier. I struggled to work on my reading habit last month so plan to keep on working on it this month.

Rather than adding another habit that will require a time committment, this month’s habit won’t take even a second of time: work on good posture.

Good posture is something I’ve always struggled with. I’ve made excuses like, “I’m really tall” or “I’ve been pregnant/nursing most of the last six years.” If you try hard enough, you can make an excuse for anything!

Such lovely, rolled back shoulders! 

Honestly, I hadn’t even realized how bad my problem was until my brother took some candid video while the munchkins and I were up in Missouri. I’ve been working on sitting and standing up straight ever since watching it.

However, since I still have to remind myself 35 times a day, it is a habit I want to focus on all month. Maybe, just maybe, when we move home I can utterly surprise and shock my dear mom by no longer needing her reminders!

Hopefully you don’t have a posture problem, but maybe there’s some other personal habit you want to conquer. I’d love to have you join me!

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Six Months of Habits: Check-Up

June is over. 2012 is half over. Can you believe it? Though at times the waiting and waiting for answers about our next step seemed to drag on forever, in all other ways this year has flown by!

The monthly habit check-ups have been a great incentive for me. Since the habits are ones that I really wanted to incorporated into my life long-term, I thought it would be fun to look back on the habits from the first six months of this year and see if they have really made a difference in my days.

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January-Get dressed before breakfast. Though it’s such a small thing, getting dressed at the beginning of the day helped me feel more productive all day long. Since January I have changed my morning routine to make time to exercise [though two long trips in one month haven’t helped on that front!] and prepare a better breakfast. So, some mornings I’m not dressed before breakfast. However, I no longer even want to linger around in my pajamas till noon. That is a change I hope stays with me!

February- establish a lunch routine. If schedules aren’t your thing, I would highly recommend adding basic morning, evening and lunch routines to your day. In February we worked on establishing a lunch routine and the change in my day has been wonderful! I keep on top of laundry better, the kitchen is cleaner and the munchkins and I are loving reading through chapter books together. Budgeting the time for these things has been very good for me.

March & April- establish technological guidelines. This spring I was nearing the point of techy obsession. It simply had to stop. I’m still not quite as disciplined as I’d like, but thankfully the online world doesn’t have quite the pull that it did before really focusing on saying “NO!” to technological distractions. It’s a habit I will probably still have to work on the rest of my life though.

May- Spend time outdoors daily. I love being outside in the spring and fall. When I have to contend with extreme summer or winter weather it’s much harder. I’m lazy that way. However, it’s worth it! I’ve missed a few days in June, but having worked on it in May makes it much easier to just get outside (first thing on these really hot days) Of course, once we’re outside it’s hard to want to come back in.

June-Establish a reading routine. Um, so hopefully you’re not still reading. I did really, really awful with this months habit. I’d like to blame it on two long road trips. However, I could have read more had I really made it a priority. July is going to be equally busy as we pack up our home, but I hope to do better and squeeze in time each day to read… even if it’s just one chapter.

What about you? Have you worked on any habits this year? How have they changed your days? 

One Habit a Month: Establish a Reading Routine

“Good habits, once established, are just as hard to break as are bad habits.”  – Robert Puller

I am good at making detailed schedules. I am not so good at following them.

However, basic routines help me to fit the important things, like reading to my children, into the fabric of my day.

Each month this year I am working on one new habit. (I would love to have you join me!)

In June, my goal is to establish a routine for personal reading. My reading goals for this summer are ambitious (at least for me) but if I work even 30 minutes of reading into each day, I should be able to finish them (or at least get close!)

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“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them,” said Ray Bradbury.

As I spend more time online, I find myself reading in smaller chunks. A blog post here, half an article there and soon my reading time is over and I haven’t really concentrated on following complicated argument or reading an entire book.

It takes a lot more discipline to read a long, old book like  Confessions by Augustine or Josephus’ History than most online reading.

Much as I love reading blog posts (and writing them!) and love the easy accessibility of answers to my questions, once I’ve carefully selected a book to read, I don’t want to let the difficulty keep me from persevering.

Having a set time each day that is reserved for reading will motivate me to keep going and hopefully (to carry Lewis’ argument, On the Reading of Old Books, a little farther) balance my love for reading 500 word posts.

[Speaking of summer reading, last week I finished two books off my listI Dared to Call Him Father and Grow Your Home While Growing Your Blog (Review coming soon!)]

What about you? Are you working on any new habits? How do you fit in time to read? 

May’s Habit: How Did You Do?

Each month this year I have worked to weave a new habit into the fabric of my days.

After two months of working on the difficult, never-will-be-mastered habit of taming the technology monster, May’s habit was fun: get outside with the children for at least 15 minutes daily.

This is easy in the mild parts of the spring and fall. In the dead of winter and heat of summer it gets harder. However, the effort is worth it.

Little Meg loves being outside in her stroller! 

Here are some of our favorite things we did outside together in May:

  • Play at the fountain park
  • Make mud soup
  • Have a picnic
  • Work in our garden
  • Play “red light, green light”
  • Ride a friend’s horses
  • Go on walks
  • Play in the sand
  • Blow bubbles
  • Go to the park. Again and again and again. (The munchkins have finally mastered their fear of slides. Hurray… maybe!)

How about you? Did you work on a new habit this month? What’s your favorite thing to do outside.  

Linked up at Better Mom & Raising Arrows

One Habit a Month: Spend Time Outside Daily

As you know, each month this year I’m focusing on one new habit that I want to become part of the fabric of my life. I’d love to have you join me! May is here and it’s time to tackle a new habit.

After tackling a difficult habit the past two months (limiting techy distractions), May’s habit will be fun: spend at least 15 minutes outside with the children each day.

In the early spring when the weather is mild, the birds are singing and the flowers bloom, spending time outside is easy. The warm spring air invites you outdoors with open arms.

As we head into May and the temperature keeps rising, it gets harder. Yesterday was swimming weather and today doesn’t look much cooler. Getting three little ones ready to play in the heat takes longer. The shade disappears sooner in the morning and I need to be more careful to protect sensitive skin from too much sun.

But it’s worth it. Not only are the munchkins much happier when they have time to play in the fresh air and run around in the sun, Mama is much happier too.

15 minutes isn’t very long, but it’s so manageable I’m confident we can make it into a habit. Plus, 15 minutes usually turns into an hour once we actually step outside!

What about you? Are you working on any new habits? Do you want to join me?


April’s Habit: How Did You Do?

Instead of Grand Resolutions for 2012, this year I’ve been working on implementing new habits that will help me become a more disciplined woman. For the past two months, I’ve been working on establishing and following technological guidelines.

The more I’ve sought to wisely use my time online, the more I’ve realized that time management is not something I’m going to master once and never struggle with again.

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I was specifically working on three aspects of online time management this month

  • Rework blogging “time budget” since my morning has changed. (Read more about time budgets in Tell Your Time.)

Our morning rhythm has changed, again. Not only are we exercising and eating a sit-down breakfast (which takes more time to make and clean-up!) but little Meg switched to just an afternoon nap.

These changes have been good for the family. Life with little ones is constantly changing. They grow, their needs change and the routine needs to adapt. Again. 

  • Set aside 20 minutes in the late morning while the kids play to do all the “quick” things like answer emails, pay bills, check Facebook, etc.
This makes such a big difference….on the days I can find the time! 
  • Avoid emails/Facebook during the first 30 minutes of “writing” time.

It’s so easy to get distracted rather than focusing on what I should be doing. Choosing to say “no” to the distractions makes the time online so much more productive. If I’m able to follow #2, it makes this last one much easier!

It’s easy to get discouraged. If this was the only habit I worked on for the entire year I doubt I’d have it completely conquered.

However,  it is been encouraging to no longer feel “addicted” to the web.

Yes, the routine keeps changing. Some days I still spend too much time online.

This is an area I will have to keep on working on. An area that needs to continually come under Christ’s dominion.

How about you? Did you do better with your habit this month? 

Linked up at Motivation Monday, Better Mom, Raising Arrows and Handful of Heart

One Habit a Month: [Continue to] Establish Technological Guidelines

Following technological guidelines was the habit I sought to cultivate in March. As I shared yesterday, I’ve still got a lot of work to do.

Blogging takes time.

When I first started to blog, I thought writing a post and hitting “publish” was about all there was to it. (Experienced bloggers, feel free to laugh with me!)  It didn’t take long to realize just how untrue that is.

Some days I’ll sit down to write and realize that there is a WordPress error that needs to be addressed immediately, a backup that wasn’t complete, a dozen encouraging comments I want to answer and two urgent emails. By the time I’m done, nap time is over and I have yet to type a title for a post.

I also started exercising more regularly in March and making a bigger breakfast, which changed my morning routine.

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In April, I’m going to keep on working on technological boundaries for myself. Much as I love blogging and the online community, my family and my home are my first callings. 🙂

“Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things,” said Peter Drucker.

These are a few ways I am going to try to make sure I’m doing “the right things” in my online time this month.

  • Rework blogging “time budget” since my morning has changed. (Read more about time budgets in Tell Your Time.)
  • Set aside 20 minutes in the late morning while the kids play to do all the “quick” things like answer emails, pay bills, check Facebook, etc
  • Avoid emails/Facebook during the first 30 minutes of “writing” time.

What about you? Will you join in our “One Habit a Month Challenge”? If so, add a link below or share in the comments. 

Linked up at Titus 2sdaysTeach Me Tuesdays Thankful Homemaker, Encourage One Another & Women Living Well Wednesdays 

(Full disclosure: Links to products in this post are my referral links)


March’s Habit: How Did You Do?

Once again, this is late. I’d like to think that the fact I hardly checked my email let alone blogged this weekend meant I was strictly following technological guidelines. It really just means we had a fun and very busy weekend! 

 Rather than focus on grand resolutions in 2012, my goal has been to work on one habit each month that will help me better fulfill my calling as a woman, wife, mother and/or homemaker. March’s habit was challenging: establish technological guidelines (i.e. stop checking my phone/email constantly!) 

Many of you joined me on that challenge. How did you do?

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This was by far my most challenging habit to establish so far. I failed multiple times.

I  wish I could say I’d fully tamed the techy monster. I haven’t.

Though it wasn’t a stunning success, looking back on the month, I realized it wasn’t quite as much of a failure as I thought either.

  • Following Amy’s advice, I’ve unsubscribed from dozens of email updates, which dramatically cut down on distractions.
  • Even when I know there are emails waiting, I don’t “have” to check them immediately anymore.
  • I’ve been more careful to make phone calls at good times of the day.
  • If I have “just a minute,” I more often color with Will, do a load of laundry, show Rose how to write a new word, or look into baby Meg’s eyes, instead of using those moments to “quickly check _____ online.”

Technology is a wonderful tool, but can so easily become a major distraction. March’s habit helped highlight ways that I could use the internet more wisely, without letting it control too much of my time. Since I still have so much to work on, I’m going to keep working on this habit in April.

What about you? Did you work on a new habit in March? Did you do better at it than I did? 🙂 

Linked up at Motivation Monday, Better Mom, Raising Arrows and Handful of Heart

One Habit a Month: Technological Guidelines

I was so busy with the No More Student Loans Giveaways last week that I didn’t get my new habit for March posted. [There are over a dozen prizes from some of my very favorite authors and businesses. If you haven’t yet, click here to enter the giveawaysEntry closes tonight!]

Rather than make resolutions for 2012, each month I am working to establish one new habit. I would love to have you join me!

In case it got buried in the midst of all the giveaways, here’s the update on February’s Habit (establish a lunch routine).


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“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit,” said Aristotle. Habits, both good and bad, help shape our character.

Lately, I’ve been slipping into a bad habit. It’s called checking my phone for emails/Facebook updates a dozen times a day (or more!)

I’ve excused myself saying, “Oh, it only takes a minute.”

Often though, that minute grows into five or ten minutes. Even when it really does only take a minute, checking email distracts my mind from the task at hand.

In Amy’s excellent book, Tell Your Time, (enter to win one of 3 copies!) she encourages us to step back and evaluate our longterm life goals. To evaluate the kind of person, wife, mother, homemaker, writer and/or      fill in the blank      we want to be.

Once we have a vision for our lifetime goals, we must arrange our days and Tell Our Time so we can fulfill those goals.

Needless to say, the kind of mother I want to be does not check her phone constantly while she’s coloring with her kids.  The kind of wife I want to be isn’t reading an email when her husband has time to talk. I want to use those “extra” moments to tie heart-strings with my family.

Thanks to Amy, I do have blocks of time set aside for blogging, Facebook and all the other online fun. My habit for March is to stick to my online time budget and not let technology distract me from whole-heartedly pursuing my calling as wife and mother.

If there are down times during the day and checking email will not distract me from other priorities, I am allowing myself two (and only two) unscheduled quick checks.

What about you? Are you working on any new habits this month? If so, I’d love it if you linked up or shared in the comments! 

Linked up at Motivation Monday, Better Mom, Raising Arrows and Handful of Heart